Design Week Manchester: A Workshop with Fred Deakin

design manchester 15, workshop fred deakin Hello Creative Adventurers,

Another great opportunity has developed through being a graphic design student. This week is "Design Manchester" a week-long festival  and there is a series of talks and workshops. This time I could participate in a workshop with Fred Deakin. Before that I want to share a few words about events like this and why I think you should try to attend as many as you can while studying.

Why Pushing yourself to get "out there" will benefit you as a designer and creative practitioner

To be honest with you, I was hesitant to participate. I am still a bit shy when it comes to larger groups and especially larger groups of graphic designers. However, I am really glad that I pushed myself a little and even raised my hand to share a few thoughts in front of everyone about my workshop experience *yay* ;).

I do believe there are quite a few of you creative people out there who feel the same about those events. They can be a bit scary, however, you are there to learn, and no one will expect perfection or endless wisdom of you. Try to see it as an experience and as an opportunity for you to develop.

I do believe as well, that you need to push yourself to become successful in what you do. Those opportunities, especially while you are still in education, are a great way to:

  • get inspiration for your design practice,
  • to receive feedback and
  • to get connected with other people.

So next time your uni offers you to participate in a workshop, give it a try and let me know how it was ;)

Collabology - or the art of working together with different backgrounds

Back to the actual event. Fred Deakin started this project called collabology. Essentially it is a series of workshops for people from different disciplines who try to work together and create a project in an industry-standard environment. In other words:

As a bridge between academia and industry, Collabology runs intensive, collaborative workshops that introduce hand-selected students to the fast-paced and cross-disciplinary environment of modern professional practice (

After introducing himself and his work we were asked to find a workshop buddy to go through a few exercises.

How do you work?

Task 1: Describe your design/creative process in 2 min.

In the first task your buddy just listens and then gives you feedback for 2 min about which areas of your creative process are structural or generative.

What I learned

I found out that so far I have been working without trying to do much research or find context for my work. In the past, when I got a brief, I usually made a few sketches and then went on with one idea that got more and more refined.

Through the feedback from my buddy (who is a graphic design graduate) I realised that it could help to find more and more interesting ideas through trying to develop a few ideas and then move on with the strongest one. Funny enough, today, during our uni session for Exploring Graphic Communication I realised that I am really prone to this pattern of pursuing one initial idea. Of course this doesn't mean that my projects are boring or bad, but I realised that I don't give myself the opportunity to discover an even better option ... because I'm stubborn. So now I will try to push myself and develop a few ideas before I move on creating an actual piece of work. Let's see what happens, I'll keep you up to date if it worked better for me.

What do you do?

Task 2: Create your elevator pitch. If you meet Bill Gates in the Elevator ... what would you say?

In the second task we had two minutes to describe to our buddies what we do. Some of us found this quite easy, others - like me - had a bit of a harder time to define themselves. After two minutes our buddy had to sum our words up in one sentence.

My buddy's notes on my short talk were:

Teach painting - reaching out online - inspire - responsible - positive change - honest / authentic

His elevator pitch for me was "I want to inspire change for the better in others through design".

Fred mentioned: "When you say it, you should feel it". I somehow do resonate with this sentence but maybe the structure or wording is not 100 % according to how I feel about my work. Anyway, Fred also said, that for some of us it will take longer to find this sentence.

If I would reflect about it a bit more it seems that I want to create positive change, reach people online and inspire them through teaching/sharing about design in an honest and authentic way. Wow, that's a long sentence. I wonder how you creative people out there would phrase your elevator pitch. Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments below ;)

What do you know?

Task 3: Talk about skills that you have and wish to have.

In the third task we had again two minutes of talking about our skill set and areas we would be interested in developing. It showed that I have a wide range of skills due to my diverse educational background and my interests. The task would be, to find a way to combine them and I do think this will happen in my own creative business.

Skills I have: Business School, Accounting, Programming, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Video/Audio editing, Flash, Photography, Social Anthropology

Skills I want: Coding WP themes, Lighting for Photography, Typography, After Effects, App Design, Starting a business, e-commerce


As you can see in two hours you can't go through the whole process of collabology but if this caught your interest have a look at their free online courses.

Participating in this workshop has helped me to identify how I work, which patterns I follow and how I could develop my creative process. Furthermore, I realised that I still need to find a way to specialise and to define who I am as creative practitioner and where I want my business to go. And last, I have a list of skills that I want to develop further.

This workshop was a great opportunity and I encourage you to take advantage of such events.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below,

have a wonderful day

Romica :)

Graphic Design Inspiration: The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (UK)

the whitworth gallery visit romica spiegl jones Hello Creative Adventurers,

Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Whitworth a beautiful art gallery in Manchester. This visit was part of my BA (Hons) Graphic Design and should give us inspiration for our design and illustration practice. For all the Manchester students out there, if you haven't seen it, please have a look. Even if you just like a good coffee this is the place to go. The café is a sunlit, gorgeous haven with park view ;).

The gallery has been renovated and re-opened and is such a lovely place to be. At the moment there is a textile exhibition, if this is interesting for you. I personally enjoyed the space itself even more than the artwork. Of course there are some pieces that spoke to me as well, which I will explain a bit later, but ...

the mixture of high and low ceilings, the wooden floor and stone tiles, the play of shadow and light of the trees on the walls of brick and wood ... are you dreaming right now? I am.

Especially because of the tall glass windows you feel as if the inside and outside space organically merge. It almost feels like you are in the park surrounding the gallery. Furthermore there is a learning centre, where people from all ages can attend workshops and classes. Have a look at their offer at

Here are some of my research photos. We were asked to take pictures of the gallery, and I tried to reference them in separate images as much as possible. If I did forget to name an artist (they are usually mentioned on a small board before or after their work), please let me know and I'll credit them properly.

Art_Textiles exhibition

A short quote of the exhibition guide:

"Textiles are having a 'moment' - enjoying exciting new currency as a visual arts medium. Traditionally situated in the borderland between art and craft, textiles play an increasingly central role in a growing body of contemporary art practice. (...) Today, many contemporary artists are demonstrating a new engagement with materials, particularly textiles, to raise questions around gender and identity politics or issues about nationhood in the post-colonial period(Art_Textiles Exhibition Guide first page)

There has been such a variety of objects so I selected a few that spoke to me, which you can find below. Especially the section on ethical clothing that tries to use materials that haven't been made with "blood, sweat and tears" was a nice surprise and shows how political dialogue can be raised in gallery space.

Toddler's Art and other Impressions

Another very interesting part of the gallery was downstairs where an ongoing research project tries to find out how toddler's perceive and react to artwork e.g. are they drawn to patterns, primary colours etc? You could find their own creations next to other artwork like wallpaper and textiles. When I encountered a lot of toddlers around the gallery I wasn't as surprised anymore. The Whitworth seems to offer a nice place for children and their parents and also opportunities for them to experience and make art.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, received some nice graphic design inspiration and you feel inspired to visit this beautiful place. For for information please go to

Have a nice day,

Romica :)